The Toshiba Satellite Pro U500-EZ1311 is a solid business laptop computer -- that happens to come with a fun and functional touch-screen display at a reasonable price. Just don't think that the touch-screen capability is going to change your life.
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The Laptop Under The Touch Screen
At this point, then, the touch-screen is basically a fun and somewhat frivolous option - adding about $100 to the sticker price -- that adds some sizzle to an otherwise solid but unspectacular laptop. The Satellite Pro U500-EZ1311 is powered by an Intel Core 2 Duo T6670 chip and on-board graphics. Three gigabytes or RAM is standard, and it can hold up to 8 GB. There's also a 250 GB hard drive and a DVD burner.
The keyboard is basic but very usable, with no unpleasant surprises. The standard touchpad felt wonderful, however, with a textured surface for positive control a lighted strip that indicates whether it's turned on. Unfortunately, the multi-touch gesture control sometimes misinterpreted my cursor movements as attempts at making control gestures. I didn't accidentally do anything harmful, but I occasionally found myself having to attempt simple cursor movements more than once.
A strip of lighted buttons above the keyboard make it easy to control sound volume and media playback. There's even an Eco Mode button that cuts energy usage. Those buttons are flanked by surprisingly good-sounding, top-firing stereo speakers, and there's also a built-in Web cam and microphone. Connectivity includes a 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, a memory card reader, VGA and HDMI outputs, 2 USB 2.0 ports and a combo eSATA/USB port with USB Sleep and Charge so you can charge your portable devices without leaving the laptop on.
The Touch-Screen Makes The Toshiba U500 slightly thicker than many modern laptops.
The whole thing comes wrapped in a textured brown plastic case that sort of feels like the interior finish on a "near-luxury" automobile. In a good way.
The 6-cell battery is rated at 3.5, and I got at least that long in casual use. The package starts at under 5 pounds, but the touch screen adds some weight and thickness.
All in all, a very creditable laptop. And if you're interested in exploring the possible uses of touch-screens, or if you have a particular touch-application in mind, there's nothing in this machine that should dissuade you. It's a great way to tip your toe in the touch-screen world.
But if you're hoping the touch screen will somehow change the way you work on your laptop and magically make computing more productive, you're likely to be disappointed. For now, based on this sample of one, touch-screen laptops remain interesting, not-too-expensive curiosities, not game changers.